Best of 2016 Playlist

August 9, 2015

Top 10 Essential Pop Punk Albums

Though today the genre is often coated in a shiny exterior, pop punk started out with over sized board shorts, tongue in cheek lyrics, toilet humor, simple power chord anthems, and of course Converse or Vans. But without these now iconic albums, you wouldn't have the modern pop punk sound we all know and sometimes love. Spanning two decades, and several generations of fans, pop punk would be nothing without these bands and their music. 

We have managed to whittle down the long list of albums to these 10. We've mainly stuck with pop punk albums that are iconic due to influence on the genre's contemporary sound, or albums that are considered classics among fans. If you think we missed an album, please comment below! And if you get butthurt, we're sorry. 

*Please note we have tried to stick to bands whose albums are noted by critics and fans as pop punk. It's a matter of deciding what genre to classify the album under (You won't see Bad Religion, The Offspring or Rancid here as their music is more punk rock) Honorable Mentions can be found on our Top 10 page (link)

10. Take This to Your Grave - Fall Out Boy  

Are you among those who long for the days of the pop punk FOB, rather than the shiny, over produced mainstream version? We totally understand why. Now a considered a cult classic album, you'd never guess that this is FOB if you didn't hear Patrick's voice. "Dead On Arrival" an instant pop punk classic, the whole album is loaded with sincere songs that everyone can relate to. A favorite track is "Grand Theft Autumn / Where Is Your Boy". The recipe that begins with soft intro, mid volume verse, to powerful chorus works its magic on this song. You have to love the lengthy song titles, Patrick's less produced vocals, and Pete's signature humor filled lyrics. The unclean vocals under the bridge in "Saturday" are the lowest point on the album, and listeners can overlook that since the rest of the song is so good. 

9. Nothing Personal - All Time Low  

It was a toss up between the band's 2nd and 3rd album, and ultimately "Nothing Personal" won out. Though the other is the album that sent the band to the forefront of the music scene, this is the album that solidified the band's status as modern pop punk royalty. Songs like "Weightless" and "Damned If I Do Ya" are classics as well as setlist staples. "Therapy" is a fan favorite, highlighting Alex Gaskarth's vocals and songwriting abilities. If you're a fan of ATL then you know this album deserves its spot. Goofy stage performances, and the hilarious chemistry between Alex and Jack make this band every bit as popular as other pop punk duos (Tom and Mark, Chad and Jordan) Many up and coming pop punk bands cite ATL as an influence, and rightly so. They are doing today, what blink-182 did for pop punk in the 90s. 

8. Through Being Cool - Saves the Day  

Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump has listed this album on his "10 albums that changed my life" list. And it has changed many lives. An often overlooked album as it was released the same year blink-182 dropped their spotlight stealing "Enema of the State". This record is just as important, as it too helped shape the new next wave of pop punk. More of a emo-pop album in reality, the band has even stated that "this is the most important album we did". Melodic guitars, fast drum beats, and bass lines to die for, it's a wonder why this album isn't as popular as its fellow '99 pop punk album. 

7.  Sticks and Stones - New Found Glory 

 "Sticks and Stones" was released back in 2002, and since then it has remained a classic pop punk album. An album full of simple songs with great production, and lyrics likes "I'm drunk off your kiss, for another night in a row" , it doesn't get much better than this. The chorus from "My Friends Over You" will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day after hearing it, "You were everything I wanted. But I just can't finish what I started". The impact it's had can be seen in many bands, most notably All Time Low, whose name comes from the opening line of the "Head on Collision" chorus. And of all the bands listed here, no other has stayed true to their original sound like NFG. Tracks from their most recent album like "One More Round" and "Ready and Willing" carry that same familiar edge, which is one of the reasons this band has remained so popular. 

6. Ocean AvenueYellowcard 

Songs of this genre can get muddled, and blur together, but YC managed to find a way to make each song very distinct. Energetic songs from a band whose lineup includes a a violinist, this is the album that dug YC out of the hole their previous releases put them in. The title track is responsible for the bulk of the album's success. Certified 2x Platinum, "Ocean Avenue" was, and still is, a staple on Rock and Alt. Radio station playlists. With lyrics like "If I could find you now things would get better. We could leave this town and run forever" it's easy to see why this was a hit. In addition opening track "Way Away" starts the album off with a great riff, and the choruses with just a hint of orchestration courtesy of said violin. Their own unique take on pop punk that brings passionate lyrics, and charged choruses. "Breathing" blends the violin with the rest of the instruments perfectly, and makes me with more bands included instruments other than the standard bass, drums and guitars. 

5. No Pad, No Helmets... Just BallsSimple Plan  

Perhaps the most versatile band on this list, Simple Plan kicked their music career off with this nostalgic album. With singles like "I'd Do Anything feat. Mark Hoppus" and "I'm Just A Kid" it's little wonder why they are as popular as they are today. The band were among the next wave of pop punk in the early 00s, alongside New Found Glory, Sum 41, and Yellowcard. Currently a more mainstream rock band, Simple Plan hasn't release albums as catchy or fun as this one (with the exception of sophomore effort "Still Not Getting Any..."), so enjoy it. You won't find songs like these on "Get Your Heart!" or their self titled album. 

4. All Killer No Filler - Sum 41  

Similar to fellow Canadians Simple Plan, Sum 41 started out as a couple of high schoolers getting together to cover NOFX songs. In recent years this band has ventured into a melodic hardcore punk sound, but they started out with one of the best albums in pop punk history. An album that had success not unlike that of other pop punk champs of their era "All Killer No Filler" is a 30 minute whirlwind of fast paced, energetic pop punk classics. "Fatlip" remains their most successful single, and their signature song. Which is interesting since it is a rap-rock song that infuses mild rapping with pop punk rhythms and choruses. "In Too Deep", "Motivation" and " Nothing On My Back" are my favorites, and some of the best pop punk tracks ever. 

3. Dookie - Green Day

The unofficial soundtrack to 1994, this album was HUGE at the time of its release. Dominating the radio with songs "When I Come Around" and "Basket Case", Green Day made punk a mainstream sensation. Alongside NOFX, Green Day left in their wake a path for other pop punk outlets to make their mark. One of the things that stands out on this album, and Green Day's music in general, is that the bass lines are actually audible. In so many albums, the bass is lost underneath all the programming, vocals, and guitar. But here, Mike's killer bass riffs are given as much room to shine as Billie's guitar riffs. 

2.  Punk in Drublic - NOFX  

The album that laid the blueprint for all other pop punk bands to follow in the future, NOFX is arguably the most important band in pop punk history, only slightly eclipsed by blink-182. The other big punk album of '94, NOFX and Green Day revolutionized the genre. Green Day became a mainstream sensation, while NOFX took the lesser route to cult status. Infusing ska and pop hooks into their punk rock sound, these 17 fast paced songs embody everything that pop punk would grow to be in later years. If you're a fan of "Dude Ranch" and "Dookie" you have to listen to this album.

1. Enema of the State blink 182 

Was there ever any doubt that these San Diego boys would take the top spot? You can't have pop punk without blink-182. Pioneers of the genre, anyone who is anyone in pop punk today has been influenced in some way or another by this band. There are so many bands and artists who count blink-182 as an influence, some even started out as blink cover bands. From other list entries like Simple Plan and Sum 41, to alternative rock outlets like Paramore, Panic! at the Disco, and You Me at Six, they have all cited the band as an influence. Though "Dude Ranch" is equally iconic, we chose the band's most successful album, and the one that everyone's familiar with, "Enema of the State" to top this list. Now iconic songs, "All The Small Things" and "What's My Age Again?", became staples on radio playlists, and their music videos received massive screen time on MTV. The album paved the way for the current wave of modern pop punk bands that can be found on Warped Tour. Stints on said tour in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2001 only heightened their popularity. "Enema of the State" redefined the genre, and made it more accessible for listeners. My favorite blink-182 song is, and always will be, "Going Away to College".